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Investigative journalism

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For a broader coverage related to this topic, see Watchdog journalism.

Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, such as serious crimes, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing. An investigative journalist may spend months or years researching and preparing a report. Investigative journalism is a primary source of information. Most investigative journalism is conducted by newspapers, wire services, and freelance journalists. Practitioners sometimes use the term "accountability reporting". One of the largest teams of investigative journalists is the is the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) launched in 1997 by the Center for Public Integrity[1] which includes 165 investigative reporters in over 65 countries[2] working collaboratively on crime, corruption, and abuse of power at a global level.,[3][4] under Gerard Ryle as Director.[5] Working with major media outlets globally they have exposed organised crime, international tobacco companies, private military cartels, asbestos companies, and climate change lobbyists, details of Iraq and Afghanistan war contracts and most recently the Panama Papers.[3][4]

An investigative reporter may make use of one or more of these tools, among others, on a single story:

  • Analysis of documents, such as lawsuits and other legal documents, tax records, government reports, regulatory reports, and corporate financial filings
  • Databases of public records
  • Investigation of technical issues, including scrutiny of government and business practices and their effects
  • Research into social and legal issues
  • Subscription research sources such as LexisNexis
  • Numerous interviews with on-the-record sources as well as, in some instances, interviews with anonymous sources (for example whistleblowers)
  • Federal or state Freedom of Information Acts to obtain documents and data from government agencies

Professional definitions[edit]

University of Missouri journalism professor Steve Weinberg defined investigative journalism as: "Reporting, through one's own initiative and work product, matters of importance to readers, viewers, or listeners."[6] In many cases, the subjects of the reporting wish the matters under scrutiny to remain undisclosed. There are currently university departments for teaching investigative journalism. Conferences are conducted presenting peer reviewed research into investigative journalism.

British media theorist Hugo de Burgh (2000) states that: "An investigative journalist is a man or woman whose profession it is to discover the truth and to identify lapses from it in whatever media may be available. The act of doing this generally is called investigative journalism and is distinct from apparently similar work done by police, lawyers, auditors, and regulatory bodies in that it is not limited as to target, not legally founded and closely connected to publicity."[7]

Terminology[edit]

Main article: Muckraker

American journalism textbooks point out that muckraking standards promoted by McClure's Magazine around 1902, "Have become integral to the character of modern investigative journalism."[8] Furthermore, the successes of the early muckrakers continued to inspire journalists.[9][10]

Examples[edit]

  • Julius Chambers of the New York Tribune had himself committed to the Bloomingdale Asylum in 1872, and his account led to the release of twelve patients who were not mentally ill, a reorganization of the staff and administration, and, eventually, to a change in the lunacy laws;[11] this later led to the publication of the book A Mad World and Its Inhabitants (1876)
  • Nellie Bly is known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé for the New York World in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within.
  • Bill Dedman's 1988 investigation, The Color of Money,[12] for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on racial discrimination by mortgage lenders in middle-income neighborhoods, received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting and was an influential early example of computer-assisted reporting or database journalism
  • Brian Deer's British press award-winning investigation for The Sunday Times of London into the worldwide MMR vaccine controversy which revealed that research, published by The Lancet, associating the children's vaccine with autism was fraudulent.[13][14][15]
  • John M. Crewdson of the Chicago Tribune wrote a 1996 article[16] proposing the installment of defibrillators on American airliners. Crewdson argued that based on his research and analysis, "Medical kits and defibrillators would be economically justified if they saved just 3 lives each year." Soon after the article's publication, airlines began installing defibrillators on planes, and the devices began to show up in airports and other public spaces. Ten years after installing defibrillators, American Airlines reported that 80 lives had been saved by the machines.[17]

Notable investigative reporters[edit]

Awards[edit]

Bureaus, centers, and institutes for investigations[edit]

Television programs[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vasilyeva, Natalya; Anderson, Mae (3 April 2016). "News Group Claims Huge Trove of Data on Offshore Accounts". The New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "About the ICIJ". The Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "About". ICIJ. 6 April 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b ICIJ, About the ICIJ
  5. ^ "Gerard Ryle". Center for Public Integrity. 
  6. ^ Steve Weinberg, The Reporter's Handbook: An Investigator's Guide to Documents and Techniques, St. Martin's Press, 1996
  7. ^ Investigative Journalism: Context and Practice, Hugo de Burgh (ed), Routledge, London and New York, 2000
  8. ^ W. David Sloan; Lisa Mullikin Parcell (2002). American Journalism: History, Principles, Practices. McFarland. pp. 211–213. .
  9. ^ Cecelia Tichi, Exposés and excess: Muckraking in America, 1900/2000 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013)
  10. ^ Stephen Hess, Whatever Happened to the Washington Reporters, 1978-2012 (2012)
  11. ^ "A New Hospital for the Insane" (Dec., 1876) Brooklyn Daily Eagle
  12. ^ "The Color of Money". Powerreporting.com. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  13. ^ Godlee F, Smith J, Marcovitch H (2011). "Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent". BMJ. 342:c7452: c7452. doi:10.1136/bmj.c7452. PMID 21209060. 
  14. ^ Ziv, Stav (10 February 2015). "Andrew Wakefield, Father of the Anti-Vaccine Movement, Responds to the Current Measles Outbreak for the First Time". Newsweek (New York). Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Boseley, Sarah (2 February 2010). "Lancet retracts 'utterly false' MMR paper". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Crewdson, John. "Cardiac Arrest At 37,000 Feet." http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1996-06-30/news/9606300419_1_steven-somes-defibrillation-first-class
  17. ^ Kovach, Bill, and Tom Rosenstiel. Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2010. 58-60. Print.
  18. ^ http://www.giornalismoinvestigativo.eu/
  19. ^ McChesney, Robert W. (2004). The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the 21st century. Monthly Review Press. p. 81. ISBN 1-58367-105-6. , citing Just, Marion; Levine, Rosalind; Regan, Kathleen (Nov–Dec 2002), "Investigative Journalism Despite the Odds", Columbia Journalism Review: 103ff 

Further reading[edit]

Web
Books
  • Typewriter Guerillas: Closeups of 20 Top Investigative Reporters, by J.C. Behrens (paperback) 1977.
  • Raising Hell: Straight Talk with Investigative Journalists, by Ron Chepesiuk, Haney Howell, and Edward Lee (paperback) 1997
  • Investigative Reporting: A Study in Technique (Journalism Media Manual), by David Spark, (paperback) 1999.
  • Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism That Changed the World, John Pilger, ed. (paperback) 2005.

External links[edit]